Introduction and Overview
In the 2nd century CE, Indian monks arrived in China and began to teach Buddhism and translate Buddhist texts from Indian languages into Chinese. Over time, the Chinese Buddhist canon became the largest and most comprehensive collection of Buddhist texts ever compiled, preserving the expansive teachings and history of Indian Buddhism.
By the 13th century CE, Buddhism had largely died out in India, and with few exceptions, the manuscripts, often written on materials such as palm leaves and birch bark, were naturally destroyed. Meanwhile, Buddhism continued to flourish in China, and the use wood block printing on paper, as well as imperial patronage, ensured that the Chinese Buddhist canon was carefully preserved.
In the modern era, a number of academics and practicing Buddhists have translated works from the Chinese Buddhist canon into western languages. However, these translations are typically limited in utility. With few exceptions, we are unable to freely use or copy these translations. Such restrictions create a barrier between readers and the work, and also serve to isolate translation efforts from one another.
Lapis Lazuli Texts was started as an original effort aiming to translate a selection of important texts from the Chinese Buddhist canon into English. These translations are being made for the express purpose of universal free distribution, and may be integrated into any collection of texts with little difficulty. All such original works are covered under the Creative Commons Zero license, which ensures that these works are in the public domain, and may be used worldwide without copyright restrictions.
Translations on this website are available in a wide variety of cross-platform formats, such as web pages, PDF and DjVu documents, and Unicode text files. The source files are also made available as machine-readable XML, using the schema of the Text Encoding Initiative. Because all translations are being made available on the Web, distribution can continue indefinitely, unencumbered by the traditional publishing process.